TCA 2012: Robin Roberts talks medical leave, Katie Couric among temporary replacements
Robin Roberts, who was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndome, says she has been feeling tired lately but that hearing about improved ratings for ABC's "Good Morning America" energized her and has been "pretty good medicine" as she prepares to undergo a bone marrow transplant towards the end of the summer.
The 51-year-old co-host made her comments to OnTheRedCarpet.com and other news outlets via satellite at the network's Television Critics Association panel in Beverly Hills, California on Thursday, July 26. Roberts revealed her ailment in June and has continued to appear on the live program, often sporting colorful armbands, which cover her chemotherapy pic line treatments.
"I do go through moments of fatigue. This is one of those days than I'm a little more tired than I am and getting myself ready for the bone marrow transplant that will take place," she told reporters, adding that the operation would likely take place in late August or September.
"Good Morning America" has beaten its rival, NBC's "Today" show, four weeks in a row in total viewers (4.598 million), marking its largest streak since 1995, and also surpassed the latter program in such ratings for eight of the past 15 years. Roberts was made a co-host in 2005. The "Today" show underwent a casting shakeup recently, replacing co-host Ann Curry with Savannah Guthrie.
ABC News President Ben Sherwood spoke about the increased success of "GMA" in personal at the panel as Roberts and her co-stars were seen via satellite responding enthusiastically.
"I gotta tell you, being here and the run that we've had has truly energized me. It's pretty good medicine, I gotta say, to be taking," Roberts said.
She had learned about her diagnosis the same day "GMA" beat the "Today" show in the ratings for a week for the first time in 16 years. Roberts also had bone marrow extracted when she landed an interview with President Barack Obama when he announced his support for same-sex marriage.
"I keep a journal and I've been looking back on my journal and I can't believe I went away on vacation early April, the week I come back - we win for the first time, the same time, I get my diagnosis and then the interview with President Obama, people are screaming at me and they don't know I've gotten this difficult prognosis ... This is why I come in every day," she added.
"This is the reason why - because you never know what the next day is going to bring and that's why I've always said, 'This too shall pass' - the good and the bad," Roberts said. "I have been certainly energized by what we have been experiencing lately."
ABC News Senior Executive Producer Tom Cibrowski, who also appeared with the "GMA" stars, Tom Cibrowski added that ABC personalities would fill in for Roberts while she was on medical leave. He mentioned Diane Sawyer, who was a "GMA" co-host between 1999 and 2009, Kelly Ripa of "LIVE! with Kelly," the women of later show "The View" and Katie Couric.
Couric, a former "Today" show co-host and ex-CBS "Evening News" anchor, had filled in for Roberts while she went on vacation. The 55-year-old is launching her own talk show, "Katie," on ABC in September. She later appeared on stage to talk about her own project and praised Roberts.
"I think Robin's a remarkable person," Couric said. "This is a difficult time for her and I think for the entire show and so if I can be helpful and try to fill her shoes for a week or whatever, even while I'm doing [my] show, I want to do that."